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The D Word: Let’s talk About Death

By December 9, 2015May 23rd, 20197 Comments

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

Marcus Aurelius

Last episode we learned how How Not To Die.

Today we contemplate the flip side: How To Die.

Everybody dies. Everybody. Of course we know this to be true. But when was the last time you had a direct experience with someone in the grips of the undeniable reality that afflicts us all without exception? Most people have never even seen a dead person, let alone held the hand of someone expiring their last breath.

Why is the one thing we all share in common seemingly deleted from our daily human experience?

Because  our culture is carefully crafted to obscure, whitewash, sanitize and obviate every unpalatable aspect of the frightening reality that scares the shit out of us more than anything else.

As a result, we sleepwalk through life pretending it doesn’t exist. Subconsciously, we might even harbor the completely insane thought that somehow, some way, we will be the exception to the rule and find a way to escape such distasteful finality.

Then, when death rears it’s unfamiliar head (it always does), we recoil. We get uncomfortable. Paralyzed by fear and morbidity, we stumble with our words. Lacking the capacity to even have an open and honest conversation about it, we retreat into a shame spiral.

Death breeds fear. Fear breeds resistance. Resistance breeds denial. And denial never helped anyone.

This is not a healthy relationship with death.

So let go of the fear. Free yourself of the resistance. And let’s form a new relationship with death. One that not only acknowledges it, but embraces it as our most potent communal experience. One that guilds our lives with meaning. One that allows us to be more present in our lives. One that unites rather than divides. One that provides fertile soil for gratitude.

For me, these concepts are not academic. As I type, Julie’s 92-year old father is on his deathbed. It is unlikely he will live to see the weekend. And so for the last several days, our lives have been on hold as our children and extended family have gathered around Larry Mathis to celebrate his remarkable life. We’ve told stories. Sung songs. Held his hand. Kissed his forehead. Said our goodbyes as he slips out of conscious awareness.

This week we’ve talked a lot about death. This podcast is an extension of that ongoing conversation.

Peace + Plants,


P.S. – Thank you for an amazing 3 years as we celebrate our 200th episode. I love you all.

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Production & sound design by me. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson. The show concludes with New Earth, written and performed by Julie — aka SriMati – accompanied by our sons Tyler & Trapper Piatt.

Thanks to this week’s sponsors: A superior shave at an affordable price. Type in my coupon code “ROLL” at purchase for $5 off your starter set and get an entire month’s worth of shaving for just $10 when you visit


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  • Karen Vanover says:

    Thank you. As I listened to this episode, I am preparing to travel to join my husband as he says good bye to his father. This is the third death in our family in 6 months. I am deeply grateful to both of you for sharing but I don’t have the words to express it. So, just, thank you again.

  • Maria says:

    Hi Rich and Julie,

    I am sending you both lots of gentle loving energy to help you and your family to continue to keep your hearts at peace regardless of the immense pain.
    I live surrounded by death. In my work environment I see all sorts of death. And it is my job to stop and/or prevent death from happening to my patients. But there is a incredible fine line which clearly shows me everyday we not in control of that but “something else”. Even thou death is so present in my day by day it could not prepare me enough for the lost of my father recently. He passed suddenly and even thou he was 94 I had the most difficult time of my life. I fell for you Julie from my heart-center to yours. Thank you for exposing yourself and your pain. Breath deeply with the consciousness that everything is perfect the way it is. May the light energy of peace and unconditional love surround you, your family and your father.
    Peace, light, love.

  • Koos Verhagen says:

    thank you so much for sharing, it helps me ‘processing’ the passing away of my father a couple of months ago. he always said he’s gonna be very busy on the other side and was ready to let go. There still was this fear for the unknown, for the travel without the physical body. And he ‘studied’ ‘what after’ his whole life, even became a priest at the age of 60. My mother couldn’t wait that long and took her own life at 59. It just taught me that death is just as real as what we see, hear, touch etc, in all what we do and say, everyday, every moment. Thank you so much for helping me by sharing your story, I wish you all the best, strength and wisdom with you father’s ‘letting go’

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you Julie and Rich for sharing such a personal story with us about Julie’s fatherr. My father is 90 and I also feel certain we will “see” each other in some way after we leave this lifetime. I look forward every week to downloading your latest podcasts – I feel surrounded by your uplifting and loving energy every time I listen.

  • Alastair Baldwin says:

    Rich and Julie, thank you so much for sharing and being so vulnerable on this topic of death. I am 20, and apart from 1 or 2 distant occasions I have never experienced what it is like to be with someone as they take their last breaths. Earlier this year I suffered quite serious ‘death anxiety’, as I contemplated my own mortality. I couldn’t eat for a day and was throwing up. It was horrible. Perhaps a little like Julie, I have almost always (even as a small child) been acutely aware of death. I agree that it needs to be talked about more (perhaps then people would cut the superfluous garbage from their lives), but it can be tough, especially when those around you are not willing to talk about it. I am getting counselling for it. Peace and love you two. Congrats on 200. Take care xx

  • Werner Brandt says:

    Congratulations on your 200th podcast, Rich. and Julie, thank you for your intimate sharing of your father’s end time. Your words struck home to my own experience with my Dad in 1993. In the early days of the internet I posted a poem in memory of him, that reminded me of your experience of the full cycle of life. See
    Kudos to how your podcasts, Rich, have expanded into all areas of the human experience. As an ex-marathoner and kidney cancer survivor, staying fit in body, mind, and spirit are fed well by the topics you present.
    Blessings, Werner

  • Tommy F says:

    Loss of manifested love is rarely an easy thing. Julie, it’s really beautiful that your dad held-on in this life-form, long enough for you to reconcile karma existing between the two of you. Having released the karmic density, you both must now be freer to ascend.


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